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Frequently Asked Questions

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I am currently in another branch of service, how can I transition into NOAA Corps?


NOAA Corps has two venues to transition from another branch of service:

  • Inter-Service Transfer:

Requests for Inter-Service Transfer to NOAA Corps are evaluated individually. The decision to accept or deny an Inter-Service Transfer request is based on the immediate needs of NOAA Corps and the rank, skills, and experience of the applicant. Qualified Inter-Service Transfer applicants may be considered for direct placement in NOAA's aviation or maritime program.

All Inter-Service Transfer applicants must have less than 12 years total creditable service time and rank no higher than O-4.

Commissioned officers retain their rank at 100%. Enlisted and Reserve personnel are not eligible for Inter-Service Transfers.

For more information click on Inter-Service Transfer

Note: Banner at top of page will indicate type of Inter-Service Transfer applicants (aviation/maritime) NOAA Corps is currently accepting.

  • New Recruit:

Prior service members (commissioned/enlisted) and reservist applicants that do not qualify for an Inter-Service Transfer may apply for the NOAA Corps as a new recruit. New recruits must be fully discharged or a conditional release authorized prior to the start of BOTC training. Applicants must meet all eligibility requirements

Prior commissioned officers receive credits of at least 50% of their commissioned service time for promotion purposes.  If creditable service time is granted, it will be applied upon appointment to the grade of lieutenant (junior grade) or above.  100% of all prior creditable service time is used for pay/retirement purposes.

Prior enlisted personnel receive no credit for promotional purposes. 100% of prior creditable service time is used for pay/retirement purposes.

Note: 4 or more years of creditable service qualifies for O-1E pay; For more information click on Pay and Benefits

For more information click on New Recruits. All new recruits attend the same Basic Officer Training regardless of prior service.


If I am a retired service member, can I join NOAA Corps?


Retiring from any of the other six uniform services makes an applicant ineligible for appointment.


What is Basic Officer Training Class like?


For more information click on Basic Officer Training


Does NOAA Corps decide where I will be stationed or will I have input?


During Basic Officer Training Class, each officer will submit a memorandum listing his/her top three choices for their first ship assignment. The needs of the service are primary and there is no guarantee of assignment. However, each officer's assignment preference and education is taken into consideration. For future assignments, whenever possible, NOAA Corps will try to match an officer's assignment with one of his/her skills, background and assignment preferences.

For more information on NOAA's fleet click on NOAA's Marine Operations

For billet descriptions click on Assignments


What will I do at my first duty station?


All officers completing Basic Officer Training Class will serve up to 3 years stationed aboard one of NOAA's research vessels. General duties include familiarization with assigned ship and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs); Performing inport Officer of the Deck (OOD) duties; Standing navigational watches as Junior Officer of the Deck (JOOD), typically in a "4 hours on, 8 hours off" schedule; Performing collateral duties as assigned (i.e. correcting navigational charts, tracking imprest fund, environmental compliance, safety and damage control, etc.)


Does NOAA Corps have any summer jobs, internship or co-op opportunities?


NOAA Corps does not currently offer summer jobs, internship, or co-op employment programs. However, some civilian NOAA programs have a limited number of such opportunities depending on your specific interests. 

For more information click on NOAA Careers and NOAA Volunteer Opportunities


Can I work on a NOAA ship?


NOAA ships are run by a combination of NOAA Corps officers, civilian wage mariners, and other federal employees while being supported by NOAA's Marine Operations Center.  Each of these has a different hiring path.  If you are interested in an exciting seagoing career on technologically-advanced platforms, please visit here.  Applicants must be U.S. citizens to be considered.


How do I identify a NOAA ship?


The webpage for each NOAA ship has images and hull numbers for you to compare.  The facilities webpage is also a useful tool to learn which ships frequent a specific home port or fleet group facility.  NOAA Corps officers and OMAO/NOAA personnel may log into the ShipTracker to help locate a specific ship.


How do I become a NOAA Corps aviator?


 The NOAA Corps has three primary annual competitive selection boards for acquiring aviators:

    1. Inter-Service Transfer (IST).  Officers commission directly into the NOAA Corps from their prior uniformed service agency. Depending on the aviator's aircraft history and FAA (equivalent) qualifications, they may be selected to operate any aircraft in the fleet.
    2. Basic Officer Training Course (BOTC).  The NOAA Corps may select pilots immediately upon their completion of BOTC to report directly to aviation training. These selects will typically begin their NOAA aviation career on our Twin Otter aircraft.
    3. Fleet-to-Aviation. A presently serving mariner (one who did not get selected at BOTC or has decided to transition to aviation at a later period in their career) may compete for a pilot position via Fleet-to-Aviation Selection Board. These selects will typically begin their NOAA aviation career on our Twin Otter aircraft.
Officers that hold less than a Commercial Multi Engine Land (MEL) Pilot Certificate-Instrument Rating will attend Flight Training. ISTs are generally selected because they hold these credentials and typically should not have to attend Flight Training. If an officer holds a Commercial MEL Pilot Certificate-Instrument Rating or greater, any follow-on training requirements will be coordinated by the NOAA Aircraft Operations Center Training Section. For any aviation specific questions, please contact the Aircraft Operations Center at



What is the Service Time Agreement for BOTC and IST?

An officer who completes BOTC will incur an initial four year service obligation. Those officers who are selected for Initial Flight Training will incur a six year service obligation, which may be served concurrently with the initial four year service obligation. 
IST officers may incur up to a four year service time agreement if they require and complete Heavy Aircraft Flight Training.

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Reviewed: March 30, 2015. Contact us with page issues.

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